The Man Without a World

In the opening scene of The Man Without a World, a man on a balcony waves his hand and brings to life a Russian shtetl. This “rediscovered” silent film by one “Yevgeny Antinov” is in fact conjured by performance artist and filmmaker Eleanor Antin, who brings to life a lost world of Yiddish literature, film, and theater. The story, complete with a dybbuk and an exorcism, is of a merchant's daughter who loves a poet but is promised to the local butcher. When a gypsy caravan comes to town (with Antin herself as a seductive dancer), the poet leaves his fiancée to join the artists in lively cafe debates regarding the role of art, Zionism, socialism, and anarchism. Knowing the events that followed and literally erased this history, Antin's re-creation can be seen to subtly reengage the debate on popular art, politics, and modernism.

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